In my experience, Pectoral Sandpipers have not been that hard to come by. And yet this year for me at least, that has not been the case. I have heard reports of one here and there, but had not connected with one.
On August 16th of this year I participated in a QCBC trip to the east pond at Jamaica Bay, where we spent a considerable mount of time with lots of eyes looking around for what the pond had to offer. The Western Sandpipers were especially nice, as were the Blue-winged Teal. The 'star' of the day was an Americn Avocet, which was a highlight and draw for many who participated.
If a Pectoral Sandpiper was about I have no doubt that we would have located it, but alas, we did not. On our walk I crossed paths with Sean Camaroptera, a fellow who works two jobs which cover six of the days of the week so sadly he has limited time, or should I say, not as much time as he would like for getting out to bird. He found one! He was also kind enough to have texted me about it, but by the time we got to that location it had become hidden again. Doh! Sure... The guy with ~limited~ time finds one...
Add to the consistently changing bird variety that keeps birding interesting, is the near drought conditions we have had this past month. Places I have checked in the past that held water are bone dry, and without the water, they are unattractie to the shorebirds passing through.
So after a posting by Derek Ross's Goose I took advantage of yesterday to try for them yet again. Sandy Pond in the Calverton Ponds preserve was a place I had never explored, and once again chasing a bird brought me to a wonderful place and a pleasant discovery. His warning and the big sign at the trail head was disquieting; there be lots of ticks around. Oh great.
Deet and the right clothing was the precaution Phil Jabiru and I took, and I am happy to say we emerged w/o a tick. Of the nasty biting arachnid type that is. We ticked some nice birds in a very picturesque place. The water level was distressingly close to non-existent though.
Just when we approached the pond, a Sharpie swooped down and flushed the pipers that were pretty close to our entry point. Would have bee nice to see them from that close but it was not to be. They settled down a ways away, and joined a few Yellowlegs, Spotted, peeps, and Killdeer. By the numbers seen recently, it appears to have been a banner year for Killdeer. That and Solitary Sandpipers, what numbers!
But to the point, there were several lovely Pectoral Sandpipers present, and following another swoop by the Sharpie we were able to count 9 of them before they settled back down. Also present was Blue-winged Teal. Nice place.
From here we ventured a small way to Epcal, and McKay Pond which I use to only be able to bird from the road. Phil and I scoped the shore and again saw far more Solitaries than usual. We also had a few Northern Waterthrushes and a Bairds that Phil found.
As I was looking at the Bairds, the Common Gallinule came walking out of the phrags right behind it. Talk about looking at the right spot! Sadly the bird has a broken wing.
After we spent quite some time scoping this pond, we decided to move on and further east. As of the morning we weren't sure we would even be able to go due to the heavy rain, but so far it had held off.
Our next stop was Northville Tpke where the Golden Plovers and the Buff-breasted Sandpipers were still present ( and curiously, a few days before we had missed them )
With our success on a really good streak, we ventured even further and tried Hummel Pond where Soras had been reported in the recent past. Here our luck ran out, but it was a nice place to discover nevertheless.
After a thorough look we headed back, and got caught in the promised heavy rains. Not bad for a day's birding. And with the Pectoral Sandpiper I am up to 311 for the year.